Building systems, structures, and sites in harmony with surrounding ecosystems

We are engineers, designers, tinkerers, and problem solvers, always seeking ways to design in harmony – more effective and more energy efficient, more beautiful and locally sourced, more comfortable and more natural, more durable and sustainable.

We are inspired by Indigenous tradition to care for the earth and its resources

Launched in January 2021 as an MEP engineering firm, Steelhead was created to partner closely with the Bodwé Group architecture practices and to keep more revenue at home serving our mission and the Pokagon Band. From the beginning, we’ve been vocal advocates for both energy efficiency and environmental sustainability in our building systems design, including viable passive and active renewable opportunities such as wind, solar, and water capture to harness the natural resources within creation. Today, we are bringing this same passion to AE projects we are leading for clients such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Veterans Health Administration.

Our philosophy and values

As a tribally-owned group of companies on mission to grow the economy and legacy of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, we fuel our work through our shared values. The Pokagon Seven Generations philosophy instills in us the value of working together to plan for our shared future and for what may come for generations we will never meet. This is not a plaque on our wall, our values are embedded in how we work and relate to each other and our clients and partners.

Wisdom | Mbwakawenewen

To cherish knowledge is to know Wisdom. Wisdom is given by the Creator to be used for the good of the people.

Love | Debandewen

To know peace is to know Love. Love must be unconditional. When people are weak they need love the most.

Respect | Wdetenmewen

To honor all creation is to have Respect. All of creation should be treated with respect. You must give respect if you wish to be respected.

Bravery | Wedasewen

Bravery is to face the foe with integrity. To do what is right even when the consequences are unpleasant.

Honesty | Kwekwadzewen

Honesty in facing a situation is to be brave. Always be honest in word and action. Be honest first with yourself, and you will more easily be able to be honest with others.

Humility | Edbesendowen

Humility is to know yourself as a sacred part of Creation. You are equal to others, but you are not better.

Truth | Debwewen

Truth is to know all of these things. Speak the truth. Do not deceive yourself or others.


Like the Pokagon water clans, we are responsible for balance between people and place

The origins of The Steelhead Engineering Company are in mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering, bringing efficiency and sustainability to systems that move and manage energy and environmental conditions for buildings and people. With this foundation, we took our inspiration from the water clans of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, of which Steelhead president Ryan Wielenga is a citizen. Like the fish and the turtle clans, we are responsible for caring for dynamic natural elements and ensuring that energy and environmental resources are in equilibrium with people. And as we expand our scope and capabilities to a full-service AE practice, we carry that inspiration and responsibility with us, serving our clients as well as the natural ecosystems within which we design and build.

Success and growth driven by the Bodwé vision

As wholly owned companies of the Pokagon Band, the mission and values we hold, and the name we have chosen, lead us to brave and meaningful service for Indigenous, civic, veteran, student, patient, and wildlife communities.


Awards & Recognitions

We are honored to be recognized by other organizations for our innovative solutions. Here are a few.


Outstanding Planning and Design

Gateway to the North Masterplan Study
Arizona State University & Construction in Indian County

Honor Award

Arcadia Festival Place Master Plan
AIA Southwest Michigan

Impact Award

Steve VandenBussche, AIA, LEED AP
AIA Southwest Michigan

Contact us

If you are interested in beginning a new project, you are a potential teaming partner, or you just want to chat about great architecture and engineering, please drop us a note.


259 E. Michigan Avenue, Suite 407
Kalamazoo, MI 49007

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